Matthew Chapter 4:1-11


Matthew 4:1. Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

What a change it seems from the descent of the Holy Spirit to being led up into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil! Dear friends, be especially on the watch after a great spiritual joy, for it is just then that you may have some terrible temptation. Mayhap, the voice from heaven is to prepare you to do battle with the enemy. I have noticed that the Lord has two special seasons of blessing his people; — sometimes, before a great trial, to prepare them for it; and, at other times, after a great affliction, to remove the weakness which has been thereby occasioned. Think not that you can come up out of the waters of baptism, and then live without watchfulness. Imagine not, because the Spirit has sealed you, and borne witness with your spirit that you are the Lord's child, that therefore you are out of gunshot of the enemy. Oh, no! At that very time, he will be preparing his most subtle temptations for you, just as Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil immediately after his baptism and his Father's testimony: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Matthew 4:2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.

I suppose that he was not "an hungered" during his long fast, and this renders it a fast altogether by itself. We are here told, "He was afterward an hungered."

Matthew 4:3. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

"Thou canst do it if thou art indeed the Son of God. Thou art an hungered, therefore feed thyself, Thy Father has forgotten thee, his providence has failed thee; be thine own providence, work a miracle for thyself." How little the tempter, with all his knowledge, understood the true character of Christ! Our Lord. never wrought a miracle in order to supply his own needs.

Matthew 4:4. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

He had been attached as a man who was hungering, so he quoted a text which evidently belonged to man: "Man shall not live by bread alone." It was a wilderness text; it concerned the children of Israel in the desert, so it was suitable to the position of our Lord in that wilderness. He meant to let the tempter know that, as God fed man by manna from the skies once, he could do it again. At any rate, this glorious Man, this true Son of God, was determined not to interfere with the ordinary working of providence, but he left himself and his needs in his Father's hands.

Matthew 4:5-6. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

"It is written." Thus the devil tried to turn Christ's own sword against himself,— that two-edged sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God; and the devil can still quote scripture to suit his own purpose. Yet it was a misquotation as to the letter of it, for he left out the essential words, "to keep thee in all thy ways;" and it was a worse misquotation as to the spirit of it, for in the true meaning of the passage there is nothing to tempt us to presumption. There is a guarantee of safety when we are walking where we should walk, but not in leaping from a temple's pinnacle down into the abyss.

Matthew 4:7. Jesus said onto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Here was a plain, positive precept, which clearly forbade Christ to tempt God by such a presumptuous action as casting himself down from the pinnacle of the temple; and we must always follow the precepts of Scripture whatever the tempter may say.

Matthew 4:8. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

Notice that these temptations were in high places. Alas! high places are often full of trial, whether they be places of wealth and rank, or of eminent service in the Church of God. A pinnacle is a dangerous position, even if it be a pinnacle of the temple; and on the summit of an exceeding high mountain is a perilous place even if the view from it is not the poverty of the city, nor the sin of the people, but the glory of the kingdoms of the world. Ever with such a view as that, the mountain's brow is full of danger to our weak heads.

Matthew 4:9. And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Why, they were Christ's already! They never belonged to Satan; and, though for a while he had to some extent usurped authority over them, it was like his impudence to offer to give away what was not his own.

Matthew 4:10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Let the bribe be what it may, thou must not worship or serve either thyself or the devil. Thy God alone claims thy homage; and if the whole earth might be thine through one act of sin, thou would not be justified in committing it.

Matthew 4:11. Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

What a change! When the devil goes, the angels come. Perhaps some of you are just now sorely tempted and much troubled. Oh, that you might speedily come to Mahanaim, of which we read, "And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him;" that there you might be met by troops of angels come to minister to you, weary with the conflict with the evil one, just as they ministered to your Lord! You need them as much as he did, and therefore you are as sure to have them if you look up to him, and ask him to seal them to you.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 3:13-17; and Matthew 4:1-11.



Matthew Chapter 4:1-11


Matthew 4:1. Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

He had just been baptized, the Spirit of God had descended upon him, and the Father had borne witness to him, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," yet, immediately after all that, he was led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. So, after your times of sweetest fellowship with God, after the happiest enjoyment of gospel ordinances. After the sealing of the Spirit within your hearts, you must expect to be tempted of the devil. You must not suppose that, in your Christian life, all will be sweetness, — that all will be spiritual witness-bearing. You have to fight the good fight of faith, and your great adversary will not be slow to begin the encounter. You are a pilgrim in a strange land, so you must expect to find rough places on the road to heaven. Yet, since you are so much weaker than your Master was, you will do well to pray the prayer that he taught to his disciples, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

Matthew 4:2-3. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him,

See how Satan seizes opportunities. When he finds us weak, as the Saviour was through long fasting; — when he finds us in trying circumstances, as the Saviour was when hungry in the desert; — then it is that he comes to tempt us. This dastardly foe of ours takes every possible advantage of us, that he may, by any means, overthrow us.

Matthew 4:3. He said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made into bread.

He begins with an "if." He tries to cast a doubt upon the Saviour's Sonship, and this is the way that he often attacks a child of God now. He says to him, "If thou be a son of God, do so-and-so." He challenged Christ to work a miracle for himself, — to use his divine power on his own behalf, but this the Saviour never did. He challenged Christ to distrust the providence of God, and to be his own Provider; and this is still a very common temptation to God's people.

Matthew 4:4. But he answered and said, It is written, —

That is the only sword that Christ used against Satan, — "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." There is nothing like it; and the old dragon himself knows what sharp edges this sword has. Christ said, "It is written," —

Matthew 4:4. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

God can sustain human life without the use of bread, although it is the staff of life; for bread does not sustain life unless God puts power into it to do so, and he can, if it pleases him, use that power without the outward means. Our Lord thus showed that God could provide for him in a desert without his interference with the plans of divine providence by selfishly catering for himself. So the first victory was won,

Matthew 4:5-6 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written,—

Here he plays with the Word of God, for the devil can quote Scripture when it suits his purpose to do so: "It is written," —

Matthew 4:6. He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

The devil did not quote correctly from Psa_91:11-12; he left out the most important words: "He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways," but it was not Christ's way to cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. Jesus therefore answered Satan's misquotation with a true quotation.

Matthew 4:7. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

I know some people, who earn their living in employments which are very hazardous to their immortal souls. They are in the midst of evil, yet they tell me that God can keep them in safety there. I know that he can, but I also know that we have no right to go, voluntarily, where we are surrounded by temptation. If your calling is the wrong one, and you are continually tempted in it, you may not presume upon the goodness of God to keep you, for it is your business to get as far as you can from that which will lead you into sin. God does not put his servants on the pinnacle of the temple; it is the devil who puts them there; and if they ever are there, the best thing they can do is to get down as quickly and as safely as they can; but they must not cast themselves down, they must look to him who alone can bring them down safely. With some professors, presumption is a very common sin. They will go into worldly amusements and all sorts of frivolities, and say, "Oh, we can be Christians, and yet go there!" Can you? It may be that you can be hypocrites, and go there; that is far easier than going there as Christians.

Matthew 4:8-10. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Christ will not endure any more of this talk. When it comes to a bribe the promise that the devil will give him earth's glory if he will but fall down and worship him, Christ ends the whole matter once for all. Thrice assaulted, thrice victorious, blessed Master, enable us also to be more than conquerors through thy grace!

Matthew 4:11. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Regarding it as their highest honour to be the servants of their Lord.


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